Rayon challis and shirring

Rayon challis and shirring

So I’m a bit obsessed with both rayon challis and shirring at the moment. Rayon challis is just the most lovely, draped summer fabric, and I’m beginning to think that shirring might be the answer to my woven bodice and stiff waistband issues. I started with experimenting with shirring and ended up making Tessa a pattern-free shirred dress!

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I modelled the size of a RTW dress that fit her and added some straps – super easy and I think it turned out pretty cute.

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She’s really running, climbing and exploring so dresses are a bit more practical now she’s off her knees nearly all of the time. I preached the fabric but the dress has shrunk up lengthwise since I made it – rayon challis does have a habit of doing this.

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I’ve got more challis in the works – I think all the girls will be wearing lots of it this summer.

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Rainbow hats!

Well I’ve finally succumbed to the matching thing and have made my children coordinating rainbow hats!

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The pattern is Luuk by Annis Jones the Woolen Horse, and the yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in the colourway Prism. I was basically inspired by a Ravelry project I found (here) and copied gluecksfisch’s pattern and yarn combination.

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The smallest hat is the 0-3 month size with the smaller bobble- it looks absolutely tiny! I made Julian (2.5 years, 51cm head) the Child 20″ size and it’s a very snug fit.

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(Two year olds – not the keenest photo models).

For Althea (6.5 years, 54.5cm head) I made the Adult 22″ size and the fit is pretty good. I did the big bobbles on both of the larger hats. Bobbles seem little crazy but I think they really make this style!

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(She would only model the hat if she got to show off her sticker art – cooperative kiddies aren’t they?)

The pattern was great – the alternating ridges really show off the gradient rainbow colours and it’s a bit more interesting than just a plain hat. This pattern has ‘purl front and back’ which was a new stitch for me and is darn fiddly.

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I’m really pleased with these hats and am planning to make one more in the 6-12 month size as I expect that the tiny hat will fit for about two weeks and may not even get worn as, well, a worsted weight woollen hat is not really what a March/April baby in a temperate climate is really going to need. I wasn’t quite able to cast on four practically identical hats in a row though – I’m attempting to cast on (third attempt now) a hat for me, and after that I’ll be back to fuzzy rainbow goodness!

A cardigan for the upcoming baby

So finally at 37 weeks I have finished a knitted garment for the upcoming bub.

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The pattern is Granny’s favourite by Georgie Hallam. I knit the 16″ chest or 3 month size, with middie length sleeves and approximately dress length body, though in actual fact I just knit until I ran out of yarn. We will see how it fits in due course but it does seem quite short and wide. My gauge after blocking was slightly too loose 22.5 or 23 stitches per 10cm, not the 22 stitches stated so that might be part of the problem.

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I enjoyed knitting this pattern, and it introduced me to a new technique – make one, using a simple backwards loop. I just googled for a youtube video as per usual.

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The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply that I dyed myself. This skein was originally intended to be a hat for Althea but I was just never really inspired to knit that. The yarn was dyed twice, once as a multicolour which was awful, then overdyed as a solid (the post about that is here). The result is a semi-solid, and I am quite pleased about how it looks knitted up. I don’t think that the colour changes detract from the lace pattern.

The buttons are plastic ones from Spotlight, I had to use reasonably large ones to keep the cardigan securely closed even though they are only yarn over buttonholes.

I have been gifted several other gorgeous hand kits for this baby – I are so lucky and my knitting friends have been very generous. But I am also pleased to have been able to make something myself. It gives me that good mama feeling, which can be a bit precious and fleeting amid the crazy chaos of family life!

My first lined jacket, speedy girl dress and conquering the blind hem foot

Well I can’t say I expected my first lined jacket to be in size 56cm (about a 000 I guess) but it turns out that it is!

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The pattern is Pikku Lapanen, from Ottobre 4/2012 – number 6. It’s a lovely little pattern designed for sweatshirt knit with a jersey lining – I used velour for the outer and cotton-lycra jersey from the inside. The velour is cotton rich and I hand dyed it teal many years ago and used it to make myself a Farbenmix Beala hoodie (Flicker set here!)

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The instructions for joining the lining and the body sleeves required a bit of thinking over, but the technique worked and produced a lovely finish with no exposed seams.

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The hood seams sewn last and then the edges are bound together using a ribbing strip. I was actually very disappointed with the ribbing trim finish – the first time that Ottobre instructions and techniques have not yielded good results! I wish I had used fold over elastic instead.

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The inside of the ribbing looks awful. The 3.5cm width of the strip was just not enough for a 1cm seam, and even though I trimmed the edges down I had to do a second row of topstitching to catch all the missed bits. I would advise using a 4.5cm wide strip of ribbing if anyone wants to make this jacket, or a completely different finish altogether. The velour knit was also a pain to work with as it’s a napped fabric and creeps and shifts, but the end result feels lovely and soft.

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Here’s the complete size 56 baby outfit!

I started on the next baby outfit in a size 62 (maybe 00) as I’m having fear that my newborn could outgrow the previous outfit in a few weeks – my friend just had a 55cm long newborn. I started with a sweater-knit dress.

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The pattern is Ottobre 3/2103 – 1. Speedy girl (sizes 56-92cm). It is designed for jersey knits but I think it works ok in the heavier fleecy knit I used here. This fabric is a remnant from the dress I made Althea for her fifth birthday (post all about that), and is Hilco Elisabet. I had very little left and had to introduce “design lines” to the back panel to fit the shape of the fabric I had. It is not terribly noticeable in my opinion.

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The neck and armhole edges are gathered with clear elastic that is then encased in the ribbing binding (I used 4.5cm wide strips rather than the 3.5cm advised). This makes for a very bulky bound finish. It is also applied in the flat not the round and you can see how thick the seam is – I had to hand sew the seam allowance down by hand as I couldn’t get that many layers under the presser foot of my machine!

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I used a twin needle for the hem. I am very pleased with this little dress and it just goes to show how a beautiful fabric and a simple pattern can give a great result.

My other great achievement this week has been that I have finally conquered the blind hem foot on my machine! School has just gone back for the year and I was faced with the very tedious task of letting down the hem on Althea’s school dresses.

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It is really not that complicated but I had attempted it a few times before and given up.

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I added a wide bias binding strip to the dresses to create a false hem, then used the blind stitch foot with a multi-step zig-zig stitch. Two zig-zags miss the front fabric and the third catches it – that’s why you need the guide on the foot as it must be accurate. You then turn and flatten the hem which pulls the end of the third zig-zag into a long vertical stitch. It needs to be ironed out.

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The end result is certainly good enough for a school dress, and very strong. I’m not sure that it would be very invisible on a plain fabric, as the vertical stitches are much bigger than those I’d take hand sewing the hem. However it certainly got a boring chore done much faster than hand sewing and now I feel much more willing to try this hem out on different fabrics.

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Only eight weeks (approximately of course) to go! I wonder what else I can add to the stack of baby clothes in that time?

Baby clothes

So I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant and life is running by so fast with everything going on in our family – I was definitely feeling like this unborn child was getting less time and attention than my other two did. I mean, we don’t have a name shortlist, I haven’t had time to keep up yoga as I did in the past, I haven’t knitted anything for the baby, or even planned to – yup – the reality of a third pregnancy is that it just kind of happens while everything else is.  So I decided that I was going to make the effort to haul my exhausted self up the ladder to my sewing space and make some baby clothes.

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I have a lot of small or remnant pieces of knit fabric – jersey, french terry, rib knit, velour, so I knew that some pretty cute garments could be made with what I already have. I also have a huge stack of Ottobre kids magazines – which have heaps of well-drafted baby clothes so I really had no impediment to starting. (Actually I really wanted to buy Farbenmix’s Zwegenverpackung pattern, but it’s not available as a download, nor in stock anywhere in Australia right now – so I decided to suck it up and not buy another pattern that I don’t need.)

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These pants are from the Autumn 4/2012 issue and are 7. Crawl and roll – loose fit jeans for baby, available in seven sizes 56-92. They do indeed look like they will be very loose, baggy pants, in fact they look rather ginormous on the baby in the magazine, especially in the rise, but there is something rather adorable about that too. In fact they remind me a lot of the Bonds Roomies Cord pants which are quite popular, and Julian had a pair as a baby.  It would be an excellent pattern if you were using cloth nappies.

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The denim is extremely soft and lightweight, which it needs to be. I repurposed it from a skirt that a sewed for myself a few years ago that was not a success, the fabric was originally from Rathdowne Fabrics.  The striped rib was from Craftymamas Fabrics, I think it is Hilco Ringel.

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There is a fair bit of detail in these pants – the back pockets, knee patches, crotch gusset, and quite a lot of topstitching. Worth it though!

The t-shirt is from the same issue and is 1. Mint T-shirt, also in sizes 56-92. I made both patterns in the size 56, which given that my other babies were 52 and 54.5cm long at birth, I’m hoping will fit for the first month.

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This T-shirt has set in sleeves, rib binding at neck and sleeve hems and a back neck opening with a fastener.

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The body fabric is cotton-elastane jersey, probably from Rathdowne Fabrics and the rib is the same as before.

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I used a multistep zig zag stitch for the hem and a press stud for the closure – the pattern called for a snap or a flat button. I constructed the whole thing on my sewing machine as I find using an overlocker too cumbersome for something as small and precise as baby clothes.

Overall I’m really pleased with this little ensemble and think I might add a sewn jacket and hat. Does anyone know of a good pattern for little sewn baby shoes/bootees? It would be nice to have a complete outfit.